Maximize Explosive Efficiency and Reduce Explosive Waste

By Critical Solutions International Oct 9, 2017 10:16:00 AM

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Reducing Explosive Waste 

Effective use of explosives revolves around achieving the same objective for every charge placed: maximizing explosive efficiency by applying the least amount of explosive material to obtain the desired effect. While this goal seems intuitive, it is regularly ignored or even dismissed as contradictory behavior, and the result is a wasteful use of resources.

Regulating Resource Expenditure

At a fundamental level, the importance of managing the amount of explosive used in a given application is the same as with any other critical resource. The more you use, the less you have. Just like with food, fuel, and bullets, in combat operations, overconsumption can spell disaster for future missions. In addition to being generally inefficient, when resources are applied without a direct, positive impact on the mission, then the end results are ineffective. This waste has both a logistical and fiscal impact on operations.

Every ounce of explosive material expended beyond what was needed for a given effect is an ounce that cannot be used on a future charge and will have to be replaced. Habitual overuse results in the need for significant and regular resupply. Considering the unique logistical requirements and risk associated with explosive transportation, even minimal explosive waste can result in major logistical burden and financial drain. 

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Efficiency of Explosive Success

Explosives should be employed as precision tools because over-application can have a negative impact on the desired effect. Often, s, Sappers apply the “P for plenty” approach, over compensating for the unknown, for fear of not executing a complete cut, push, or breach of their target. In many instances, the repercussions of under-estimating are detrimental to the mission, but the compounded effects of overestimating can be just as harmful.

Wasted Materiel

When calculating the required amount of explosive, sappers tend to round up once they determine the necessary amount of block, sheet, or cord explosive. They do so in order to avoid the hassle of turn-in or storage of unpackaged residual explosive. Each stage of rounding takes you one step above the necessary charge.

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Wasted Time

More explosive results in a bigger blast, which can yield more collateral impact and, thus, requires a further safe distance. More distance means more time to get back to the target and a longer assessment of the effects. Not only are you wasting explosive, but you are wasting time on target. 

Wasted Space

Resource distribution on the contemporary, asymmetric, "be ready for anything" battlefield commonly leans toward gear issuisng more task-specific gear to soldiers. Unfortunately, this approach means troops are sent on missions overburdened, which can translate into more waste aside from time and material: space and energy. As different tools for different jobs add up, so does their space claim. Filling a soldier's pack with task-specific charges, or excess bulk explosive, add unnecessary weight. This burden drains soldiers of energy and limits the space available for other critical equipment. This is just one more example of the compounding effects of explosive waste.

Efficient Use of Explosives

Ensuring that resources are designed in a way to discourage waste is a proactive means to help reduce excess while limiting operational burden on units. Explosive charges need to encourage good user habits through their design. That means ensuring that any explosive systems are efficient, versatile, and intuitive.

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  • Deliberate Design: Explosives, like C4, come in large blocks that have to be broken down into smaller pieces whenever a full block isn’t necessary. Thick blocks also mean that significant portions of explosive force is not transferred to the target. Because a full block is often more than needed, excess C4 is either discarded (resource waste) or used anyway (time waste). Employing explosives that can be built up (like CSI’s Bandolier charge) rather than broken down (like C4) allows for application flexibility without the resource waste.
  • Versatile Application: Effective, flexible explosive application goes hand-in-hand with efficient explosive design. Targets are never standardized, so soldiers need to be able to respond quickly and in stride to avoid the overcompensation that comes with urgency. A rapidly adaptable, modular explosive system enables application on a range of targets, which reduces the waste associated with taking the wrong tool on a mission. 
  • Encouraging Good Habits: We’ve established that more explosives mean greater safe distance and ultimately more time on target. Don’t use a brick of C4 when a smaller charge is more effective. The impact of excess on a precision breach can compound very quickly.

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Efficiency is Operational Currency

Tactical efficiency inevitably influences mission cost. The less efficient explosive employers are, the greater the cost will be in time, money, and resources. With this in mind, working to eliminate waste and increase efficiency through adaptable explosive design and application will always be crucial to determining mission success. Time is money, ounces make pounds, and “P” should equal precision when dealing with explosives.

 

Category: Route Clearance, Explosive Waste

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